Voyageur Trail Association and other trail groups
Recently, I met someone new to using trails in the north who explained to me the confusion they felt when crossing a trail with multiple signage identifying it as the Voyageur Trail, the Trans Canada Trail, and even the National Hiking Trail. Was this not the local hiking trail, how many trails are out there and did they inadvertently move on to another trail? After a while they realized they were all the same trail.
The trail system in the north is limited to the trails that can be maintained. Many trails associations aim to link trails with a common purpose to provide a more visible experience. The Trans Canada Trail is an association that promotes a multiuse trail, The Great Trail, that connects Canada from coast to coast to coast. This trail is made up of local trails that are developed by other groups such as the Voyageur Trail Association (VTA). The National Hiking Trail aims to connect wilderness hiking trails across Canada.
The VTA is the association that supports the development, maintenance and promotion of a hiking trail along the northern coasts of Lake Huron and Lake Superior from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay in Ontario. This trail system is made up of local trails maintained by local clubs. Currently, there are four active clubs, Nor’westers, Casque Iles, Saulteaux, and Coureur des Bois, who maintain the 600+km of developed trail. The trail itself is separated into 18 sections, not all of which are active nor have trail. For instance, the section from Sudbury to Elliot Lake does not have trails designated as Voyageur Trail.
In addition, trails will also go through parks, conservation areas and private lands, as well as crown land. Many of these organizations will impose their own naming or blazing conventions, causing further confusion to the mix.
When hiking along the Voyageur Trail, it is important to understand how the various organization influence signage. Inform yourself of the blazing conventions of that area that you are hiking. These can be found either on the VTA website or other local sites. Contacts are listed if there are any questions.